It was almost a year ago that Schitt’s Creek jumped from a show slowly growing in popularity to an overnight smash. It was last winter, during Season 4, when Patrickâ€”played by Noah Reidâ€”sang “Simply the Best” to David Rose (Daniel Levy), publicly professing his love during an open mic night, bringing worldwide attention to the comedy and donations to LGBT Youth LineÂ in Canada andÂ The Trevor ProjectÂ in the U.S.Â Â via iTunes and Spotify downloads.
Since then, Schitt’s Creekâ€”which airs on Pop in the U.S.â€”was nominated for Best Comedy at the Critic’s Choice Awards. The cast will be attending the January 13 event. A special Christmas episode brought further attention to the program, ensuring it remains a holiday staple. Next, a theatre tour through February, culminating with a stop in Toronto.
But while awards shows and tours beckon, Annie Murphy says the focus of the series remains the same.
â€œEach season peels back a layer on the family and the people of Schittâ€™s Creek,” she says over the phone. “This season is no different. There is a lot of love, a lot of heart and lot of the goofy, wonderful laughs that weâ€™re used to. And a lot of â€˜Ew, Davids.â€™â€
When viewers tune in on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC, they’ll see a family that has truly become a part of the community. David and Patrick’s store, Rose Apothecary, is still in business, Alexis (Murphy) and Ted (Dustin Milligan) are still together and the Rosebud Motel is still standing thanks to Stevie (Emily Hampshire), Roland (Chris Elliott) and Johnny (Eugene Levy). Only Moira (Catherine O’Hara) is absent but that’s because she’s in Bosnia filming a movie. David, worried things are getting stale between he and Patrick, agrees to accompany Alexis and Ted on a double date that involves nature and heights, two things surely on David’s Must Avoid list.
â€œ[We filmed] in a ropes course that I never knew existed,” Murphy says with a laugh. “I was feeling very confident going into it because Iâ€™m not afraid of heights. But once they strapped us in and we were up there on the platform with no barrier around it, we all had a bit of a moment up there. It was way higher than it looked, I can assure you of that.â€
Murphy hints that changes are in store for Alexis in Season 5. Aware of what she’s put Ted through over the past few seasonsâ€”including cancelled wedding engagementsâ€”the fashionista realizes she has to devote more to their relationship than before. She puts herself into a scenario we haven’t seen her in.
And though the actions by Milligan, Murphy, Reid, O’Hara and Daniel Levy are all great in Tuesday’s return, it is Eugene Levy’s scenes that grabbed my attention. Levy has made a career out of being the straight man and leaving it up to his co-stars to grab the spotlight. He turns in the most sensitive performances I’ve seen from him, making for a commanding presence. They actually carry over from “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose,” an emotional storyline in which Johnny tried to bring his family together for the holidays. It brought a tear to my eye. Turns out I wasn’t alone.
â€œEugene really, really grounds all of the characters that surround him,” Murphy says. “In the Christmas episode especially, watching him play such a sad guy. When heâ€™s releasing the tree and when he goes off to the cafÃ© by himself, I had a hard time holding it together when we were shooting. I looked over and saw Dustin wiping away a tear. Heâ€™s such a wonderful human being and that really comes across in his acting.â€
Schitt’s Creek airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
Images courtesy of CBC.